Content marketing and marketing automation: a match made in heaven
Most marketers these days have fully bought into content marketing. The concept of creating and distributing content to a defined audience for a strategic end has been fully embraced. For the most part, a content marketing strategy can only be implemented effectively with the machinery of a marketing automation platform in the background.
The marketing automation platform is the structure and mechanics of distributing, tracking and housing your content marketing. As such, content and the content marketing strategy that sits behind your content is critical.
If you’re going to implement, or are currently using a marketing automation platform, you need to feed it.
For those early on in their journey, it’s worth thinking about how you’re going to create all the content you need to power your plans. Without the planning, you’ll quickly fall into a trap of having nothing to say – so planning out the content, both from a campaign perspective and the ‘business as usual’ communications, is a must.
As with most things, this needs to be closely aligned with your overarching campaign messaging and proposition, as well as knowing you have the resources to produce it all. Here’s a quick rundown of the key things to think about – for those transitioning to a content-first approach – keeping in mind the additional complexity of a marketing automation platform:
1. What are you going to host, and where?
Some marketing automation platforms have the ability to host your content, but you need to think about whether this is something you want to do. It has its pros and cons, for example, you may want to track every interaction your visitors have with assets, in which case, it’s easier to host them within the platform.
That said, many platforms have the storage space capped with additional fees for large volumes (i.e. over 100MB), so be mindful of how much you’re going to be creating and the likely file sizes. Don’t forget that the file storage limit applies to all assets hosted in the platform, including images.
There’s always your own hosting provision too, and if you’re going to become a lean mean content machine, then it’s worth considering other options.
Start by thinking about how much content you already have… Which leads me on the next point…
2. Define your overarching content strategy
I’m not going to turn this blog into a content strategy post, but the strategy and messaging part of the process should have been defined and laid out against audience groups. Fundamentally, you know what you want to say, what your audience wants to hear and have a clear messaging hierarchy to support that. You’ll need to incorporate these steps into the ongoing content production because for one, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and two, content is an ongoing and evolving programme.
3. Audit your existing collateral
Most organisations already have plenty of collateral and I’m sure you do too. The obvious ones are case studies, product documents and technical guides. If you’ve been running campaigns, there’s white papers, reports, infographics and third-party content as well.
Take stock of what you have and then map it to your content strategy. Does it still fit with the direction? How does it support awareness, education and conversion strategies, as well as relevancy for new contacts, existing prospects or customers? And should it be gated behind a form or not?
Consider how you’re going to classify content and then how it fits, both in terms of the content strategy and from a functional and informational perspective.
4. What do you need now?
There’s content, and then there’s content. The first type is the asset – the PDFs and documents you create that are ‘pieces’ of content in their own right. Then there’s all the supporting content that helps to distribute that content.
For example, for most pieces of content, there needs to be a landing page, a form, an email or series of emails, and possibly even a workflow. With each of these you need to get your content hat on and produce some collateral; a landing page needs images and copy, as does an email, plus you need some social posts too.
So, as part of your audit, consider what else needs to be created. Again, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so plan out your priorities and then think about how to create the appropriate supporting assets you need.
To put some perspective on it, let’s say you have 5 pieces of high value content that you want to lock behind a form. That’s 5 forms, 5 landing pages, a thank you page (or possibly 5 thank you pages, depending on your set-up), 5 delivery emails, and the workflows or automations for each one. That’s a lot, and if you need to translate for other languages, then x2, x3 or x4.
5. Plan and build out your roadmap
I’ve said a couple of times in the post, that Rome wasn’t built in a day, which means you need to plan out your roadmap as to what’s happening when. Consider, for example, product launches, campaigns, webinar programmes, third party collateral and any corporate announcements. This very much depends on the size of your organisation and scale of your implementation, as well as whether you’re working with international teams.
The roadmap helps to plan and organise what you’re doing, but more importantly, manages the expectations of those around you.
The perfect partners
Once you’ve planned and migrated the content and implemented supplementary content to support the assets, you can swing into regular content production and start to look at other features of automation. All-in-all, a marketing automation platform is the perfect companion to content marketing. Enabling you to manage, track and show value to the business.